Maybe Matilda: My Craft Fair Booth

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Craft Fair Booth

I wonder how much longer I can drag out the sharing of little bits and pieces of the Queen Bee Market? It’s already been . . . what . . . two weeks? And I’m still posting about it. And you’ve probably read like 50,000 posts about it (and Snap) from everyothercraftblogontheinterwebs. But I am nothing if not a shameless follower, so beat the dead horse I shall!

I thought I’d show some pictures of my booth from the market. I underwent a period of deep, excruciating, procrastination-ridden stress over my booth design. Here was my cyclical, stuck-on-repeat thought process:

“An amazing booth will draw in customers. All the other vendors who do craft fairs, like, for realsies and not just for hobbiesies/funsies, are going to have amazing booths. I’ll look pathetic next to them if my booth isn’t also amazing.”

“Hold up. An amazing booth requires money and skill, two things I am lacking. And any money spent on the booth reduces the amount of money I take home from the market. Never mind, I’ll just have a crappy booth.”

Rinse and repeat. I didn’t want to spend much on the booth setup, since that would have to come out of my profits, but I didn’t want to be embarrassed of a shabby (not in the cool way) booth.

DSC_0621 So this is what I ended up with. I thought it was pretty darn cute, but I’ll admit that it was quite overshadowed by some other vendors’ spots who clearly do these events often and have really invested in great furniture to use, backdrops, fancy shmancy signs, vintage-y accessories, etc. But you know what? Mine looked good. I thought it was attractive and neat and welcoming and displayed my items well, and it ended up being really cheap to pull together, which meant that almost every penny I made at the market was pure profit. I borrowed almost every piece of the booth—from the awesome black backdrop to the tables and even the display dishes and baskets--from kindly family and neighbors.

The breakdown:

DSC_0622 The most expensive piece of the booth, by far, was the stupid freaking sign. Like an idiot, I waited until two days before the market to order my sign. If I had bought it online with plenty of time for it to be printed and shipped, it would have cost something like $20-30. But I was so busy stocking up, plus so indecisive about the setup and look I wanted for the booth that I realized in a panic 2 days before the market that I had no sign. I had to have it printed at Office Max the day before the market began, and it rang up to $75 (it was a 4x2 foot vinyl banner). Ouch. It kills me that I didn’t just plan this ahead of time and save $50. The silver lining I’m hanging onto with a vicious grip of death is that I’m planning to hang my overpriced (yet fantastic-looking!) sign in the craft room I don’t yet have. In the house I don’t yet have. Won’t that be cool?

DSC_0614 One of my big concerns for the booth was height. I can’t imagine that dozens of hats just plunked flat on a table makes for a very visually appealing shopping experience. I wanted to figure out a way to create some height and depth in my booth so my items weren’t just lying there, all sad and droopy-looking on a table. A sweet neighbor let me borrow cake platters and dessert stands (like the three staggered plate stands on the right in the picture above) which were perfect for adding a little dimension and height to the booth.  Styrofoam heads ($5 each at Hobby Lobby) were another great way to lift a few items higher up off the table as well as show how they might like on you. If you are blue or green, hairless, and bodyless.

My favorite display touch was the clotheslines . . . I just brought some scrap yarn and clothespins, and used duct tape to fasten the ends of the yarn to the back of the backdrop. It was a great way to, again, add some height, as well as feature some smaller items that might have gone unnoticed on the table. And it cost something like $2 for a gigantic package of clothespins at Walmart, so it was a really inexpensive way to add some personality and height to the display.

DSC_0615

Another dessert stand and bowl (borrowed from a neighbor) added some height to a cute side table (my mom’s) and made it easier to organize some of the goods.

DSC_0612 I thought this was kind of nifty . . . a neighbor let me borrow this metal tree (I believe she said it was from Rod Works), which was the perfect way to showcase dozens of little headbands. (Thank goodness for a church facebook page on which I could plead for display item donations . . . all these kind ladies came to my rescue with dishes and trees and baskets and platters and on and on . . . saved me so much money and stress!)

DSC_0608 I had a few 8x10s printed of my items being worn . . . hats and headbands look okay just lying around, but they look 1000% better on a person. Especially if that person is an adorable chubby baby. So I had some cheap prints made at Walgreens, then just taped them to the backdrop. I think this actually made a big difference . . . I noticed quite a few people strolling by my booth without hardly slowing down, then noticing my big adorable baby photos and stopping to take a look. I even caught a few people snapping pictures of my pictures on their cell phones, so I think they were a great way to slow people down and catch their attention. Plus, it added some color and interest to the rather boring black background, which was nice.

My final booth technique, if we can call it that, was to make sure I wore something I was selling both days . . . even as I was wandering around doing shopping of my own, I had a few people ask where I’d bought my cute hat or headband, and I was more than happy to inform them where they could find one just like it. I wore one of my slouchy berets the first day (pictured above, and available here) and a big flower headband the second day (right here).

If you’re going to take anything away from this craft booth post, let it be this: do it early and do it cheap. I would have definitely saved myself a lot of stress and money if I had ordered that dumb sign earlier, and the whole process would have gone more smoothly if I had planned what I wanted my booth to look like from the beginning. And, personally, I don’t think it’s worth it to spend a lot of money creating an attractive booth. Some booths at the market were very obviously very expensive to put together, and unless you do fairs like this for a living and know you’ll make a killing, I just don’t think it’s wise to spend much for the sake of having a cute spot. Talk to friends and neighbors about borrowing tables and display items . . . it’s just too expensive to go out and get everything yourself to create a booth one time. Not worth it! How sad would it be to spend a fortune on a booth that you don’t make back in sales? Or to walk away with like $15 in profit because you had to have an impressive, pricey booth?

There were so many great vendors there . . . some of my personal favorites were:

Trinkets and Butterflies :: this shop is one of those cases where pictures just don’t do the item justice. Brittany creates the most stunningly beautiful jewelry using real butterfly wings. Real. Butterfly. Wings. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I took home a gorgeous butterfly wing pendant necklace . . . I’m still over the moon excited about it. So lovely.

Cinnamon Sticks :: I could not get over Canela’s amazing jewelry, either . . . it had such a beautiful, simple, rustic charm, but was so incredibly detailed and well-made. You know how some “handmade” jewelry shops are just buying pre-made pieces and putting them together? Well, Canela’s jewelry is all completely handmade . . . as in, she does whatever silversmith-y work is involved in turning a lump of metal into a ring or a bracelet or a necklace. Gorgeous work, gorgeous style. And Canela herself is an absolute delight—I fell a little bit in love with her. Okay, fine, a lotta bit.

Karol’s Handmade Soap :: this booth was a huge hit at the market—everywhere I walked, people were talking about ‘the soap lady’—and for good reason. Her soaps looked and smelled incredible, were beautifully packaged, and made for a great, inexpensive purchase. I already regret not buying some (although I certainly walked by and sniffed her booth often enough) . . . I think they’d make such a great hostess or Mother’s Day gift.

15 comments :

  1. Thank you for not blogging about the psycho fan and her psycho friend...

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  2. It was very nice to meet you. Even though I came across like a psychopath, I promise I'm not! ;) That's what we all say...

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  3. Your booth looks fantastic and creative! I'm doing a craft fair soon and trying to come up with displays from items I have.

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  4. Your booth is so cute! You did an awesome job putting it together!

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  5. I think your booth looked great! It showcased your products very well and I would have def stopped at your booth if I was there! Great job!

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  6. LOVE the booth! The clothesline idea was genius. And that tree is so flipping cool!

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  7. I like your use of clothespins in your booth. And wow, I can't imagine how many hours you spent preparing your crocheted items for your booth. Great work!

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  8. I love the way your booth looked. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  9. I think your booth looks great! Well done, lady. I hope you did well and made a substantial profit. :)

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  10. Thanks so much for the flattering review! If it is any consolation, I stressed over my booth too! I can't believe how many talented women there were! I remember your booth and cute hats! I just need a grandchild now.

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing how you felt about your displays and booth. It looks great! I think you did a great job and were very creative with how to show your product as well as make it. Good luck at future shows!

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  12. Your booth was awesome! I love the clothespins and the tree. Very cool!

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  13. Thank you so much Rachel! Youre so sweet, im glad you are enjoying your butterfly necklace! I stress about (and spend way too much money on) my booth. And have found out, sometimes the hard way, what does and doesnt work. Your booth was darling, loved the clothes pins and i think your sign turned out so cute!
    Good luck, and hope to see you around at some other shows :)
    ~Brittany
    Trinkets and Butterflies

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